Getting to the ‘Vacation Lifestyle’ (guest post by Suzanne)2 Apr 2011
[The following is a guest post from our dear friend and vacation lifestyle confidant/conspirator, Suzanne.]
I was recently in Beaver Creek enjoying the hospitality of Dr. and Mrs. Vacation. As a long time friend, neighbor and traveling companion, I happily celebrate their adventure and achievement. However, blog readers need to know that their journey to this point was anything but glamorous. Once the Agreement to take time off was signed (read about it here), Kent and Heather (K/H) went into savings overdrive with a focus on managing expenses. In retrospect, those actions impacted their lives in many ways.
Pre agreement, K/H would often meet friends over dinner at various restaurants and clubs. Post agreement, all restaurant meals disappeared from their social calendar. In fact, everything about meals changed. When K/H issued a dinner invitation, meat generally became a condiment rather than a focus of the meal. A solid piece of meat or chicken was ground up or shredded in order to stretch it. Individual bottles of wine disappeared and were replaced by a box or liter format containers. Meal portions were carefully rationed to provide subsequent meals. Leftover bratwurst purchased for a client appreciation or community party became the basis for an evening celebration with friends.
Additionally, K/H controlled electricity costs of their 1950s home with a vengeance. In the winter, I went to visit knowing the house would be chilly…well, cold. Kent would typically greet visitors dressed as Nanook of the North. Heather admitted that she worked at the computer wearing heavy socks, sweater, slippers — plus a blanket. Summer had the opposite effect. Gatherings on sweltering summer DC evening were held outside — because it was still cooler than being inside the fan-only cooled house!
And while on the topic of the house, in preparing for the year off, K/H renovated their home to make it more appealing to the market — doing much of the work themselves — and living in it during construction. Then they heavily edited their belongings — often at great emotional cost. Their home is now rented to generate income — and save expenses.
Clothing purchases can have a significant impact on a budget, and that was addressed as well. During the heady days of telecom employment, I remember Kent purchasing a lovely designer suit to wear at a series of black tie events. Now he shops at Target and Wal-Mart. Heather has been spotted shopping at Goodwill on more than one occasion, and I doubt she’ll ever again purchase a Tommy Bahama swimsuit.
I reveal these insights not to ridicule or demean, but to illustrate that achieving a dream typically comes with a price tag. From my perspective as an investment advisor, unless you are Bill Gates, one has limited assets — so one must set priorities to determine which desires will be fulfilled and which will go by the wayside. Kent and Heather did exactly that — primarily by cost cutting decisions that others might find unpalatable. I also note that the decision to remain child-free contributed significantly toward their ability to take a year off. Luck has also played into their story; both Kent and Heather are very healthy, physically strong individuals — and their family responsibilities are minimal.
So I raise my glass to celebrate not only Kent and Heather’s year off but the journey as well: Cheers to the fruits of frugality! I love it when a plan comes together!